February 15, 2006

Sci-Fi Channel Movie Review: House of the Dead 2

When considering whether or not I really wanted to subject myself to it, I had serious pause. I saw the original Uwe Boll "masterpiece," or should I say that I suffered through it. My worse judgment got the best of me, as I am always up for a horror film, no matter how bad. At least I didn't have to pay for this one.

House of the Dead 2 does not appear to have any connection to the original film. There is no party or any kind of misdirected subtext. This movie assumes that zombies are now a fact of life. The government has set up an agency to deal with just these types of out breaks. It seems that a new strain of creature is popping up, dubbed the hyper-sapien. Forget the comedy or cheap scares and lame effects of the first. This direct to TV sequel embraces its low budget and B grade roots and has fun with it. We are given plenty of zombie shooting action.

I am going to have to spoil the opening, as I absolutely loved it. It starts with a water gun attack on a frat house. One of the female victims is walking through the street, cursing her boyfriend for what had happened, when a car comes around the corner and runs her down! A man gets out of the car and approaches her asking if she is OK. She says she is fine, and then we get the reveal of the driver, Sid Haig! He is better known as Captain Spaulding from The Devil's Rejects. He clubs her with a crowbar and takes her back to his lab, where he is trying to unlock the secrets of immortality. Of course, it backfires and we are off to the races.

Outside of that really small bit that explains this outbreak, there is no real story to speak of. House of the Dead 2 does not exist to tell a story, it exists to provide some blood and zombies. We pick up our heroine, called Nightingale, while on a date. She is quickly confronted by a zombie, which doesn't really help the date all that much. She is then taken back to base where she gets suited up and teamed with a military squad to infiltrate the zombie hordes and find the source, the first generation zombie.

The squad is filled with your generic mix of macho guys and women out to prove themselves. There is internal squabbling as they go about their jobs. They get to the campus and split up, soon enough their numbers get pared down, until we have the small group that will lead the charge to the climactic battle.

To talk of the story anymore would be pointless, as I am sure most of you know how these movies go. So, I will leave the story behind and tell you about other things that you may or may not want to know about.

The acting is better than in the first film, and average for your typical DTV zombie film. The cast is led by Emanuele Vaugier, of Saw II fame, she is convincing as our team leader, Alex. She is supported by Victoria Pratt (Cleopatra 2525, Mutant X) as one of the military unit. The unit also features rapper Sticky Fingaz as their team leader. Finally we have Ed Quinn who seems to be making a career as a guest star on a large number of TV series, as Ellis, Alex's partner.

The biggest claim to fame would have to be the zombie effects. The makeup looks great. There are a ton of zombies and they all look fantastic. The movie has a ton of gore, more than I had expected. There were also plenty of spots where it looked like some of the gore was cut, and also some nudity. I am sure we will get to see it all in an unrated DVD release.

Bottomline. This is not high art, but it sure is a lot of fun. I think the fact that this debuted on TV tempered my expectations and allowed me to have more fun with it. There is a great deal of blood, plenty of action, and some attractive women strewn throughout, plus that Sid Haig cameo. Then we have a nicely open ended ending. This did a good job at erasing the experience of that original mess. Looking forward to the DVD release (due 3/21).

Recommended. *** / *****


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